(Translated version, original article written in Chinese by Pastor Mickey Hsiao)
By singing praises and hymns, awake your soul, open your heart to the Lord, and prepare yourself to welcome the presence of God and receive the Word of God that will be given to you.
Petition with thanksgiving to God for a wonderful day and pray sincerely for a focused Scripture reading time! (Do not rush into reading the Bible without starting with prayers!) (e.g., you may start with a simple prayer like this: “Dear Lord, what will you be speaking to me today?)
Get the following items ready in advance: your devotional notebook, paper, pen, and/or electronic devotional articles so that you can easily write down the Bible verses, questions, and thoughts you have noticed! You are encouraged to open your Bible and vocally read out the scriptures (Try to practice this reading method daily or once a week)!
Scripture Reading: John Ch. 13 (ESV)
Take a moment to quietly reflect on today’s Scriptures. Through such exercises, let God’s Word be gradually written into our hearts and be inscribed to our mind.
Read the devotional articles prepared by CBCLWA (*Read the Bible first before reading any devotional materials.)
(vv. 1-17) According to the scriptures of this chapter, Jesus first washed the feet of his disciples, and then commanded them to wash one another’s feet. Jesus then prophesied that he would be betrayed. We can see that it was Judas who let Satan enter into his heart step by step. Finally, Jesus foretold that he was about to leave his disciples and he gave a new command to his disciples to love one another.
From the process and dialogue in which Jesus washed his disciples’ feet, we see that Jesus, despite of his noble status as the Son of God, willingly prepared water and towels for his beloved disciples and washed their feet – which is the body part that is the most easily dusty, the hardest to wash, and the lowest part of a body. The disciples certainly felt wrong about such a move of Jesus, but Jesus insisted on washing their feet one by one. Jesus’ action symbolizes the following:
- The filth of man needs to be cleansed by the Lord: Jesus said: “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” If we were not redeemed by the blood of Jesus (1 Peter 1:18-19; Revelation 1:5), we would not be able to meet and build relationships with the holy God because of the filth of our sin (1 John 1:7).
- The noble king and the humble servant: Remember when disciples argued with each other along the way about who was greater? Here Jesus said: “For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” We should follow the example of Jesus regardless of our personal identity or status. Just like what the Lord has done, we should not be hesitant about what the Lord has commanded us to do. Remember that the Lord once said: “If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.” (John 12:26) “A servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him” (John 13:16) Even the most distinguished king is willing to bend over to serve the man, what else will we not be able to tolerate and not do? May we all understand this and then just get up and do it. Jesus said, we will be blessed if we do it.
(vv. 18-30) What caused Judas to finally choose to betray the Lord? Regardless of Satan’s act, he was the one who ultimately made his own decision. Or we should say that he allowed Satan enter into his heart! There are a few things worth noticing:
- Jesus loved him: “having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” (John 13:1b)
- Jesus washed his feet: Although Judas’ feet were washed, his heart was not all for Jesus.
- Jesus had given him opportunities to repent: Jesus had repeatedly indicated, “…Not all of you are clean.” (v.11) “…He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.” (v.18) “…one of you will betray me.” (v.21) And Jesus said expressively, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” (v.26) “What you are going to do, do quickly.” (v.27)
It was Judas who, after following Jesus for more than three years, refused to repent in the end. After eating the bread Jesus had dipped, Judas chose to betray the Lord Jesus and his brothers, and he went out immediately!
Judas had followed Jesus and served along with his brothers as disciples and he was assigned to a treasurer for the group. Yet, no one among the disciples knew that His heart was open to Satan, except Judas himself and God who knows! When we follow the Lord and serve in different ministries along with other brothers and sisters, others cannot always detect what is wrong with us and only we ourselves are clear about who we are. And of course, God already knew everything about us. If you realize today that you have faults, repent! God is willing to give you a chance to repent so that you won’t continue to fall.
(vv. 31-38) After Judas left, Jesus was sure that “the appointed time” was about to come and it would be a moment of glory. “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once.” In that situation, Jesus gave his disciples a new command for them to love one another. Why was it called a new command? From the scriptures we can see:
- New ways: Jesus said that for them to love one another, they would need to follow the way of how the Lord loved them. Jesus says, “just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” This means that we need to sacrifice for one another and deny ourselves for the sake of others (1 John 3:16). It’s hard to deny yourself to love others by your own strength, It will be easier if we ourselves are filled by the sacrificial love of Jesus first!
- New effect: In verse 35, “…if you have love for one another”, as in Ephesians 4:3 “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, Jesus said “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” How do people recognize us as disciples of the Lord? Is it to recite the doctrine? Observe rituals? Or order a uniform with “I am a Christian” printed on it? None of them! Jesus said that as long as we live to love one another, we will be recognized as Christians!
Give thanks to God for His enabling us to read the Scriptures and for our response for living out the Word of God today! (e.g., You may start with a simple prayer like this: “Dear Lord, what/where are you going to lead me to today?”)